Every morning as I set out for Mass, many thoughts rise with me from my bed. The faces I see today at morning Mass are the likely faces I will see again tomorrow. They sit down meditating and patiently waiting for Mass to begin. I find this highly encouraging for my ministry, and above all, for my spiritual life. I always remember the admonishment of the Bible which says, ‘Remember your Creator in the days in your youth’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). It is necessary to use the time at hand to pray and honor God in the hay days of our lives.
Comparing attendance from what I know of Nigeria and here in the USA, the enthusiasm is the same. Catholics love the Eucharist and those who attend do so because of their faith. However, the demographics of those attending daily Masses differ between my previous experience of ministry in Nigeria and what I see here. While in Nigeria, I see faces of all ages attend Mass, here it is the old folks that impress me most in the morning. And this is one big reason which makes my sunrise exciting with joy.
My point is not condemning the younger generation because they have to go to school or work, but in praising the efforts of the older generations for their enthusiasm and commitment to nourishing their Catholic life. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was always found at Mass and her encouraged Catholics to attend every morning before they begin their busy schedules. With the pandemic, we need to be careful about our health. However, we need to have time to pray at Mass.
Sometimes we ask, “how can one become a saint?” Here is a simple answer. The saints were not extraordinary people by the privilege of birth. No, the saints were ordinary people who did the ordinary things of life in extraordinary ways. In doing so, they etched their names on a solid path to sainthood as exemplary people that others can emulate because they struggle against imperfections. In the vision of St. John, the beloved apostle, he saw a multitude of people from every nation, innumerable, and impossible to count. These were people who washed themselves in the ‘blood of the Lamb’ through sacrificing their time for the things of God while they lived in the world. Every the individual is given 24 hours in a day, and the the way these hours are utilized depends on an individual’s time management skills. While few remember that worship is important at the beginning of the day, others are in a rush to finish their to-do lists.READ MORE
There is so much talk about love that it is easy to find tons of material on the subject. From movies to fiction novels, we discover the human ability to love and be loved. The beauty of human love is deeply appreciated when love is unconditional and from the heart.
Hatred often creeps into human life and things do not add up as expected. The world today needs love as we see pictures of violence and terrible inhuman acts perpetrated by human beings capable of loving and being loved. It is even more worrisome when religion is used as a cover wreaking havoc on the weak, the innocent and destroying the defenseless.Unfortunately, the story is not always that way.
My position is that religion is supposed to make you a better person but then, when something is wrong with your practice do not blame the religion per se. The book of Exodus should be read with the background of suffering in Egypt of God’s chosen people. For over four hundred years, they labored as slaves under harsh conditions, until God saved them through Moses.
In today’s first reading, God is urging them to consider acts of kindness to aliens, widows, and orphans. “You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. You shall not wrong any widow or orphan. If ever you wrong them and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry.” God is encouraging the Israelites to be kind, considerate, and merciful to these categories of people and indeed to their neighbors who look different than them.READ MORE
In October 2014 Pope Francis convened a Synod on the Family to discuss contemporary issues affecting the Catholic family. The first session started that October 2014 and the final session ended on October 2015. At the end of the first session, Pope Francis canonized Pope Paul VI, the pope who gave us the encyclical Humane Vitae (On Human Life) in 1968. In April 2014, Pope Francis canonized Pope John XXIII in recognition of initiating the Second Vatican Council in 1963. He also canonized Pope John Paul II in answer to a miraculous intercession. Pope Francis requested the intercession of these popes for the success of the synod on the family.READ MORE
When you consider what teachers go through in class, you will appreciate them for who they are. They teach, listen, and they are patient. A few times in their teaching career, they feel like they are in the wrong profession when they meet annoying students and nasty behaviors. Some students can grasp a lesson quickly; others succeed by constant repetition. While some students merit the A grade not so with many unlucky ones.
Every teacher is key to a student’s learning. It is the responsibility of the student to develop learning techniques independently and assimilate those hard theories. It is the desire of every teacher to graduate high performing students and to be proud of them. So that is the reward for teaching but sadly, not every student gets to the top.READ MORE
After listening to different news media reports onthe endless skirmishes between Israel and thePalestinians in Gaza, I decided to find out formyself what history could offer me about thiscontroversial subject. I found a book of greatinterest, The Middle East by Bernard Lewis,a historian of great repute and versed on thesubject. From the first to the last page, I read indetail the rise and fall of different empires,sultanates or caliphates, or khanates in what wenow call the Middle East.READ MORE
In many novels, plays, and films there are storms. Characters look to grey skies and warn that a storm is coming. This is not just a weather forecast! In our own daily lives when we face difficult or painful situations we talk about ‘ weathering a storm&rsquo, or ‘ being all at sea.’ These recent months whether at a personal, local, national or global level, we have all weathered, battled, and hopefully survived the storm that was and still is the Coronavirus. It shook and rattled us and we all did our very best to hang on and survive. Hopefully these days now, that storm is easing for us.
In the gospel today, the disciples find themselves in a storm while at sea in a boat, but this is not the only storm they are facing. The gospel continues directly from last week’s when Jesus fed the crowd. After sending them away, Jesus again spends time alone where he can be silent, rest and pray. Even Jesus can’t be busy and active all the time. While the disciples are at sea the famous storm blows and bellows.READ MORE
Jesus multiplied two fish and five loaves for amultitude of people. He knew that the peopledepended on him while he taught them by thehillside. When it was time to depart and go backto their homes, he did not allow them to emptyhanded. He instructed the apostles to give themsomething to eat. They could only find two fishand five loaves. Jesus multiplied them and gavethem out for the people to eat.
Anytime we read this section in the Bible, we arealways moved with surprise that Jesus couldmultiply few loves of bread and fish for a largegathering. However, we should not be surprisedcompletely and lose the point. Jesus is the sonof God. He came from the Father to show ushow much he loves us. He used many difficultand impossible situations to reveal, to us pieceby piece how much he cares about us. Insteadof believing in God’s ultimate power, wequestion everything about him.
Consider this fact. Five thousand men excludingwomen and children ate from the two fish andfive loaves. Do you know how much food fivethousand men could eat? What about thewomen and their children? Combining the foodthat came from the fish and bread gives us thecourage to term this a miracle. Our faith teachesus that Jesus did many other miracles tosubstantiate his position as God’s Only begottenson.READ MORE
Christianity has to do with building up your faith in Jesus. There are many things you can learn from the Catechism class, from your parents and from your peers. But it all depends on your disposition to translate this information into your spiritual life. It is said that “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink,” this applies to our lives as human beings in the sense that we have all the tools necessary for our spiritual growth, yet we take many things for granted.
I remember the story of a man who was traveling in his car. All the tire bolts on one of his tires fell off. The three other tires were intact. He stopped by the side of the road and was lamenting that one of his tires had no nuts due to rough terrain. It was a lonely road. He saw a man sitting by the road and engaged him in a conversation. He lamented his situation and cursed his vehicle. The man sitting by the side of the road advised him to loosen a nut on each of the three good tires and tighten them on the one without nuts. It worked and he continued his journey until he reached the city.READ MORE
It is over forty years now since Avery Cardinal Dulles, S. J. published his wonderful treatise on the Church. He considered six models that help us better understand the workings of the Church. His publication Models of the Church (Doubleday, 1974) became an instant bestseller for many reasons. For me, the first reason is the significance and importance of the Second Vatican Council.
From 1963 to 1965 Church leaders discussed the position of the Catholic Church in the modern world. After the beautiful discussions, many theologians began compiling the resolutions into simpler forms for Catholics to comprehend. Cardinal Dulles is among the first group of theologians to capture the proceedings of the Council in simpler forms using his theological expertise. My second reason is that his book appealed to Catholics as well as non-Catholics eager to learn the position of the Church on many topics such as ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, the universality of the Church, etc. Cardinal Dulles used his experience and gave us these models to assist us in our spiritual growth.READ MORE